The United States and Russia have agreed to the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades. After concluding a phone call with Russian President Medvedev this morning, President Obama announced the new START treaty during a press briefing with Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen. President Obama said:
"Since taking office, one of my highest priorities has been addressing the threat posed by nuclear weapons to the American people. And that's why, last April in Prague, I stated America's intention to pursue the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, a goal that's been embraced by Presidents like John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.
"While this aspiration will not be reached in the near future, I put forward a comprehensive agenda to pursue it -- to stop the spread of these weapons; to secure vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists; and to reduce nuclear arsenals. A fundamental part of that effort was the negotiation of a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.
"Furthermore, since I took office, I've been committed to a 'reset' of our relationship with Russia. When the United States and Russia can cooperate effectively, it advances the mutual interests of our two nations, and the security and prosperity of the wider world. We've so far already worked together on Afghanistan. We've coordinated our economic efforts through the G20. We are working together to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations. And today, we have reached agreement on one of my administration's top national security priorities -- a pivotal new arms control agreement.
"In many ways, nuclear weapons represent both the darkest days of the Cold War, and the most troubling threats of our time. Today, we've taken another step forward by -- in leaving behind the legacy of the 20th century while building a more secure future for our children. We've turned words into action. We've made progress that is clear and concrete. And we've demonstrated the importance of American leadership -- and American partnership -- on behalf of our own security, and the world's.
"Broadly speaking, the new START treaty makes progress in several areas. It cuts -- by about a third -- the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy. It significantly reduces missiles and launchers. It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime. And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies.
"With this agreement, the United States and Russia -- the two largest nuclear powers in the world -- also send a clear signal that we intend to lead. By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities."Full TextRead more on the White House Blog.